The Arhiteksti Foundation has published a three-volume edition marking the 35th anniversary of the installation The Riga Project by American architect John Hejduk at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where his structures Object and Subject were shown.
The original 1989 publication presented the opaque nature of the Object–Subject and the carefully documented production of the installation. The new revised edition expands on these reflections with two additional books in a custom–made slipcase — a Latvian translation and Act Two: The Riga Project, which initiates preparatory works for the reenactment of Hejduk’s Riga in Latvia.
American architect, artist and educator John Hejduk was a prominent figure in architectural education of the 20th century who gained wide recognition by introducing new ways of thinking about space. His use of common architectural elements like columns, walls, beams, and piers allowed him to outline an open framework in which architectural ideas, relations and elements can be developed free from the challenges imposed by the physical world and the client. Despite only a handful of his ideas being constructed, Hejduk has published more than twenty books. Structures based on his drawings have been built in London, New York, Berlin, Prague, and elsewhere.
«Despite the vastness of Hejduk’s importance in the global architectural discourse, his ideas and the Riga Project have never reached an audience in Latvian architectural community. To break this silence, we would like to take this initiative to look back and build upon his influential work to bring his Riga back to Riga,» the publishers of the book say.
John Hejduk: The Riga Project details the construction of the Object and the Subject — two anthropomorphic structures. The two elements that stood more than eight metres tall, exhibited in 1987 in the Great Hall of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, seemingly brace and embrace, emotionally and spatially engaging the observers of the installation. Later, the structures also appeared in Hejduk’s 1989 Vladivostok trilogy’s Riga book.
Original reflections on the Object and the Subject have been preserved and republished with permission, including a visual essay by the photographer Hélène Binet, poems by the poet David Shapiro and John Hejduk himself, among others. Forewords by architects Larry Mitnick and Rudolfs Dainis Šmits introduce the new edition.
Act Two: The Riga Project examines practical reflections of various artists, curators, poets, photographers, architects and architecture students on the ethos and nature of John Hejduk’s work. Contributors include: architect and poet Efe Duyan, architecture students Gustavs Grasis, Kirill Khusid and Sergejs Kopils, artist Indriķis Ģelzis, artist and composer Joe Namy, artist and printmaker Malgorzata Maria Olchowska, artist Elza Sīle, architect Juris Strangots, architectural practice «Studio Substrata», architect and researcher Dina Suhanova, and poet Kārlis Vērdiņš.
The release of John Hejduk: The Riga Project marks the beginning of Act Two which will start in 2022 as a series of various events of cross–disciplinary collaboration with local architects, Faculty of Architecture and Design of RISEBA University of Business, Arts and Technology, Kim? Contemporary Art Centre and others to build and present the Object–Subject structures anew.
The reenactment of John Hejduk: The Riga Project and the reissued publication is curated by architects Rudolfs Dainis Šmits, Igors Malovickis, Reinis Saliņš, and Andris Dzenis. The edition is available on request by contacting Arhiteksti.
The publication was made possible by financial support from RISEBA University of Business, Arts and Technology, the State Culture Capital Foundation, and the American Latvian Association Cultural Foundation.